Utility companies across the United States are looking to finance more alternative energy projects. One such utility is Pacific Power, which is looking to develop community-based alternative energy projects via its Blue Sky program.
The Blue Sky program has already aided in funding 36 alternative energy projects in Oregon, California, and Washington. Customers that enroll in this program are asked to buy renewable energy certificates from renewable energy facilities. The electricity generated from such facilities is then fed to the regional power grid.
The proposal of Pacific Power was announced by the Department of Energy. The company maintained that it preferred to finance local community-based projects, and also reported that it would only provide funds for projects that would be completed by the end of the year. The location is within the Rocky Mountain service area.
While utility companies were searching for projects to finance from their own coffers, government auditors observed some of President Barack Obama’s renewable energy grants to determine whether or not the money was rewarded to the proper recipients.
The investigators are now examining 14 out of the 2,600 projects that received tax dollars under the program that was made to promote solar and wind power via the 2009 stimulus bill. Under the said program, developers of alternative energy projects received 30 percent of the total cost.
The audits are done by Eric Thorson, the Treasury’s inspector general. His goal is to determine whether or not the Treasury has followed the proper procedures in awarding the grants and if the developers who received them met all of the requirements.
The Treasury Department declined to name the projects that are being audited. The audits started in February 2010 and involved visiting the headquarters of the companies that received the grants, along with the actual project sites. The final site visit was done in February 2011. The report on five of the audits will be finished by the end of September, while the remaining nine reports will be completed in 2012.
The grant from the stimulus bill helped accelerate alternative energy projects across the United States, and also enabled companies to create new green jobs. The program required applicants to submit detailed descriptions and supporting documents to make sure that the taxpayer funds are awarded correctly.
The grants were based on the total cost of the project. Therefore, it didn’t encourage the developers to keep the costs as low as possible. The Treasury examines all of the documents to ensure that the amounts are at reasonable fair-market valuation.